Downtown Phoenix is an exciting city, filled with art, culture, shopping, events, hip nightspots, and great food. In the 25 years since I first moved to Phoenix, the area has seen an amazing rebirth. I was able to get a look at it up close when I was hosted for a stay at the unique concept that offers both a combined Residence Inn and Courtyard Inn by Marriott in a new 20-story tower. Staying just steps from everything and on the efficient Light Rail is definitely the best way to experience downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
Discovering the Residence Inn/Courtyard Phoenix Downtown
Marriott International, Inc. opened the Residence Inn by Marriott Phoenix Downtown and Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown in May 2017 at the corner of Central and Madison avenues (132 S. Central Avenue) in downtown Phoenix.It's conveniently located about 10 minutes by car from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport or just across the street from the Light Rail that comes directly from the airport.
The new hotel was about 5 miles south of where I lived in Uptown Phoenix, so I was eager to check into the hotel and see what this new two-in-one concept was all about. It would give me a chance to experience living in the heart of Downtown.
The 20-story tower features an indoor pool, fitness center and meeting spaces. All of those are available to guests of both hotels, as is the main check-in area, the Bistro-Eat. Drink. Connect.® in the lobby, where you can grab snacks, light evening fare, cocktails, beer, and wine. This is a comfortable space to sit and unwind. I grabbed a glass of bubbly while my husband picked up a local beer.
All guests can also use the parking garage or valet parking service. I liked that the hotel has carts that look like airport luggage carts. Guests thought they were fun and actually used them for bags and the ice chests that were popular for the weekend's baseball games.
The hotel feels like a boutique hotel property despite the fact that it's a large property in the city's center. I'm excited that Little Rituals will be opening on the 4th floor in mid-2018. Little Rituals will serve seasonal cocktails and gourmet bar bites with some great Phoenix city views.
So how do you pick which of the two hotels is best for your specific stay? It depends on your particular needs, making it ideal for every Phoenix visitor. Read on to see which amenities each hotel offers.
The Residence Inn Phoenix Downtown
I stayed at the Residence Inn Phoenix Downtown, although I toured both hotels during my stay. I loved what the Residence Inn offered for extended stays—every suite comes equipped with a kitchen. You have a modern eating space plus a coffee maker, microwave, and residential-sized appliances. If you want to cook during your stay, the hotel can even arrange to have groceries delivered to your room.
There's a large desk for working, ideal for those in Downtown Phoenix on business. There is also a comfortable sofa, ideal for relaxing after a busy day. Rooms with a king bed have a smaller, tall table with two stools, which is the room I had during my stay. My husband and I found it great for a mid-afternoon snack, but we weren't there long enough to use the kitchen.
The rooms with two queen beds are larger and ideal for families. They have larger tables with four chairs, making it great for eating sit-down meals in the room.
Our room had beautiful views of Downtown Phoenix. I also was pleased to note there were plenty of plugs for charging devices, large bathrooms with delightful showers, and comfortable pillows and mattresses—extras I would expect to find in a room that normally cost quite a bit more per night.
The Residence Inn includes a complimentary breakfast each day on the 2nd floor—and it's quite a spread. There are a variety of options and this is only open to those who book a stay at The Residence Inn portion. In-room Wi-Fi is complimentary, making it easy to work on the road. There's a guest laundry room (there is a charge for doing your laundry) and dry cleaning services are available if you ask at the front desk. There are also pet-friendly rooms available in the Residence Inn.
Courtyard Phoenix Downtown
While I didn't stay in the Courtyard Phoenix Downtown rooms, I was able to tour several of the rooms. These rooms—actually a separate hotel within the same tower as the Residence Inn—are located on lower floors. The Courtyard Phoenix Downtown rooms are light, bright, and set up for a traveler planning on spending a night or two in town versus those in town for an extended stay.
There is a fun vibe and the Courtyard room continues its focus on a boutique, high-tech feel. The rooms have what they call drop zones—a “Luggage Drop” for your bag and a “Tech Drop” ledge for plugging in your devices. There are ample plugs, a nice size workspace, and what appears to be comfortable mattresses and pillows—all important for this picky traveler.
While there's no kitchen in these rooms, there are still great views. Complimentary Wi-Fi is also available to Courtyard by Marriott guests. While breakfast is not included in your room rate when staying at the Courtyard Phoenix Downtown, you can purchase breakfast at The Bistro just off the lobby.
Exploring Downtown Phoenix
The best part of staying in Downtown Phoenix is that you are walking distance to so much that Phoenix has to offer. The Phoenix Valley Metro Light Rail is about a block away and will take you north to museums or east to the airport or to Tempe's Gammage Auditorium.
The hotel is one block from Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns and major concerts throughout the year. During our stay, it was baseball season, and we were lucky enough to get tickets to a home game of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The air-conditioned facility—it even has a swimming pool!—is walking distance from the Residence Inn. We had so much fun walking with all of the Chicago fans staying at the hotel.
The hotel is also very close to nearby Comerica Theatre, which is one of my favorite venues for small performances. We saw Steve Martin and Martin Short there during our weekend at the Residence Inn. Upcoming performances include such performers as Bill Maher, Jerry Seinfeld, Dancing With the Stars, and Jethro Tull. It's an intimate venue but is even better if you book the VIP Experience. With that ticket, you get an exclusive entrance, box seating, a waitress to bring food and drinks to you throughout the performance, and more.
Dining and Nightlife in Downtown Phoenix
The other bonus with staying at The Residence Inn by Marriott Phoenix Downtown or the Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown is the easy access to some great restaurants and shops.
On the corner of Jefferson and Central in the historic Luhrs Building, is Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour. Ironically, this was once headquarters for the Arizona Prohibition Headquarters. I love Bitter & Twisted because proprietor Ross Simon is innovative and creative. Simon just isn't afraid to take chances with the cocktails or the food. Oh, and it's not just the cocktails—the food menu is also darn good. I love the pork belly buns and Seoul fried chicken. Be sure to save room for the campfire marshmallows.
The bar is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 pm to 2 am and there is usually a wait to get in after about 7 pm.
I would also suggest crossing the street to check out CityScape Phoenix. This complex of restaurants, bars, residential units and shops frequently has entertainment and you can check the website to see if there are bands playing or perhaps free movies. It's a great spot to take the little ones for free Friday afternoon movies and a chance to play on the splash pad in warm weather.
I do have some favorite restaurants there. Try Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, which has a bit of a Southern touch to its dishes. I love the deviled eggs with bacon jam and the shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage, which are always on the menu, although other dishes change up seasonally.
The cocktails at Blue Hound are all hand-crafted and even those change seasonally. Last summer, I had a delicious black pepper pink melon, which was pepper-infused Reyka vodka with St. Germain and lime cordial served over a watermelon ice cube.
My husband tried the “Lawless”—Evan Williams bourbon, Truck Stop bitters, Bäska Snaps Malort liqueur, and tobacco smoke. He's a bourbon lover and likes to find unique takes on the bourbon. It brought back memories for me of going in old barns on my grandfather's farm in Virginia as a child. All good things when a drink can evoke memories.
When You Go to Residence Inn and Courtyard Phoenix Downtown
My weekend in Downtown Phoenix was such a great experience. It's always true that you don't fully experience what's in your own backyard. I only lived about 5 miles north at the time, but it was like visiting another city. I am so excited about the rebirth of downtown and the new restaurants and shops that have appeared since the Light Rail came into downtown. These two hotels, housed inside a single tower at 132 S. Central Avenue, give you the freedom to choose how you want to stay when you visit Downtown Phoenix.
Today, I divide my time between Phoenix and Dallas. When I go to Phoenix, I stay in hotels and it's usually for a week at a time. You can bet I'm going to be spending more time at the Residence Inn by Marriott Phoenix Downtown. It's ideal for me with easy access to the airport and so many great choices for dining, plus great Wi-Fi when I need to stay connected.
Get the latest rates for Residence Inn at marriott.com/phxtw and for Courtyard Phoenix Downtown at marriott.com/phxxt. Check out more things to see and do in Phoenix on Wander here.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.